I like receipts because they’re ways to remember things by.

I think it comes inherently from the ways that they’re structured — they’re lists. With them, I can keep track of my spending or find the name of a product I don’t remember.

While their primary function is to document the exchange of goods and money, I like to think of how receipts also keep track of social transactions that occur — interactions between people, goods, and other people.

My receipts track my emotions and my own memories — if my receipt only has a few items and they’re various snacks and caffeinated drinks, I was most likely pulling an all nighter, feeling tired and stressed. If there’s a box of Capri-Sun, I was probably feeling nostalgic. If I bought a can of SPAM, I was definitely homesick. Hostess cupcakes remind me of my father, while Coca Cola in the glass bottles remind me of my mother. If they’re on my receipt, I’m probably thinking of them.

My receipts also document labor — each receipt lists the name of the server or employee that has helped me. The quality of food, service, ambience — all of that labor is evaluated and judged in the amount that was paid as a tip.

My interests, habits, thoughts, emotions, memories, and experiences are simplified and lumped into these lists of numbers and objects.

My life is housed in the many little (and sometimes incredibly long) receipts I accumulate.